Electoral directors for the Peace River Regional District want a report on possible treatment options for the Rose Prairie water station before considering alternative sources to provide potable bulk water for area residents.
The water station was closed after explosive levels of gas were discovered in the system just prior to its opening in February. A number of groundwater wells have been identified as possible alternatives, including the North Peace Fall Fairgrounds.
“The investment in the present site is huge. Have we exhausted any treatment options?” said Electoral Director Dan Rose during a Sept. 27 meeting of the PRRD’s Electoral Area Directors Committee. “Ultimately if we could make that site work with minimal investment isn’t that the best option before starting all over again?”
The PRRD spent $919,169 to build the water station and another $407,233 in operational expenditures before the problems forced it to be closed.
In June, the PRRD contracted Tetra Tech to identify new water sources and potential treatment options to remove gasses from the water at the shuttered station, at a cost of $97,668.70.
The company has so far completed the first phase of its study identifying a range of potential new water sources, which noted that a well on the Fall Fairgrounds may be the most feasible option "as it is already owned by the district and will require the least amount of effort to obtain an approval for use."
Electoral Director Karen Goodings, however, said she was "absolutely opposed" to tapping into the well at the fairgrounds. She noted the PRRD was still waiting for Tetra Tech's second report on treatment options.
“That well is absolutely important, seriously important, to our Fall Fair, and to anybody who rents the grounds,” said Goodings. “Any disturbance to that would be detrimental to what we’re trying to do out there.”
Goodings expressed reservations about the remaining alternative water sources being on private land, and suggested that dugouts could also be an option for the PRRD to consider.
Electoral Director Leonard Hiebert suggested the regional district look to Saddle Hills County across the border in Alberta, which had been using dugouts and two tankloaders for its water system before tying into the Peace River. He noted there are also dugouts in Tomslake that may become available for the PRRD’s use in the next couple of years.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News